Pain prevalence in hospitalized patients in a German university teaching hospital

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Barbara Strohbuecker - , Witten/Herdecke University, Universität zu Köln (Autor:in)
  • Herbert Mayer - , Witten/Herdecke University (Autor:in)
  • George C.M. Evers - , Witten/Herdecke University (Autor:in)
  • Rainer Sabatowski - , Universität zu Köln (Autor:in)


Forty-eight units were enrolled in a descriptive, cross-sectional study to identify strengths and weaknesses of pain management in a German university teaching hospital. Patients had to be ≥18 years old and able to speak German; intensive care, psychiatric, obstetric and pediatric units were excluded. Structured interviews were conducted by an independent researcher not involved in patient care. Patients were asked about prevalence of pain during the interview at rest, on movement, and during the 24 hours before the interview; patients rated pain intensity at rest and on movement as well as the worst pain 24 hours before the interview by using a 10 cm visual analogue scale (VAS). In addition, patients indicated localization, duration, and causes of pain. Chart analysis was carried out to check for pain medication, ICD-10 diagnoses, and demographic data. To evaluate the adequacy of pain management, the Pain Management Index (PMI) was assessed. A total of 561 of the 825 inpatients who were contacted participated in the study. Fifty percent experienced pain during the interview and 63% reported pain during the preceding 24 hours. Fifty-eight percent had moderate or severe pain (VAS ≥ 45 mm) and 36% reported severe pain (VAS ≥ 65 mm). Thirty-three percent had pain for more than six months. The most prevalent localization of the strongest pain was in the lower extremities (20%). Fifty percent of patients with pain received pain medication. Patients on the surgical wards (P = 0.002) and those having severe pain (P < 0.001) were more likely to get analgesics. However, 30% of those with VAS≥65 mm received no analgesic and only 24% had adequate medication. A negative PMI, indicating inadequate pain therapy, was found in 44% (246/559) of the sample. Sex and age did not influence pain prevalence, pain intensity, or pain therapy. Pain prevalence and intensity in this German university hospital were high and pain therapy was inadequate in many cases. Pain management needs to be improved by continuous assessment and adequate pain medication.


Seiten (von - bis)498-506
FachzeitschriftJournal of pain and symptom management
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Mai 2005
Extern publiziertJa

Externe IDs

PubMed 15904752



  • Epidemiology, Pain assessment, Pain etiology, Pain intensity, Pain management index, Pain prevalence, Pain therapy, Visual analogue scale